I am Christian and have not issues with someone being an atheist. We were given free will and it was their right to choose what they believe. And just because someone is atheist doesn't mean that they have no morals. There are a lot of nice people in any walk of life.
Its not that people fear atheists its they do not want anyone to take what they believe from them with logic.
Most people do not scare me. Atheists or religious zealots are somethings the same. They are just on polar opposites of the spectrum. I do not mind their beliefs I just do not like someone trying to tell me how I should believe. They can throw all the facts at me they want both for or against a god but in the end I believe what I believe and they can believe what they wish.
To me it all comes down to one thing and one thing only. Do not preach to me as mind is already made up. You are not going to change me so do not even bother. Besides I dislike pushy people who try to tell me what I should or should not believe *smile*.
I agree with you. I don't mind a good discussion about this or that. Occasionally even religion or politics falls into that category, although more often on this site it appears. I think that is because it feels safe, like I'm not going to hurt anyone's feelings. I'm not about that. But while I don't mind a good conversation, I really don't like to be preached to. Those who preach tend not to want to have a conversation and usually ignore other points of view, rather just droning on and on about their view. I'm not into that either.
I am a scientist and a Christian. I have all my logical faculties and I have my faith. They are not separate compartments of my life, nor are they at odds with each other. I don't take things I investigate scientifically on faith and just explain away something as "God made it that way" or whatever, nor do I look at some scientific finding and say "There is no need for God now, we know how this is done".
With that as a primer, I don't preach to others nor do I want to be preached to. I have my guiding principles and I take new information in stride and incorporate it into my worldview. I love having discussions with people about any and every topic, but it must be entered into with an open mind. We can't have a conversation (Or at least not a good one) if both sides aren't willing to consider the other's opinions and possibly change their views. I think this is why people get so upset over the topics of religion and politics. Most people have made up their minds and don't want to hear anything that doesn't align with their beliefs. People are not able to have the cognitive dissonance that while they support a certain viewpoint, there are holes in it or unexplained parts. Just because you are a Democrat doesn't mean you have to support every party belief and endorse every Democratic political officer. Same is true in religion. Just because you are a Christian doesn't mean you have to agree with every other Christian (Or even everyone in your denomination). I try my hardest not to judge people based on how they identify (A Democratic Christian, or a Republican Muslim, etc). I like to talk to people and see what they really believe and have intelligent and thoughtful discussions with them about how they came to their beliefs or why they hold them. Even if I agree, it is always interesting the many paths that lead to the 'same conclusion'.
Speaking from a faith point of view close to atheism (Agnostic), I have to say that there are some atheists who are at least nearly as frightening as the more radical members of true religions.
Many who call themselves atheists can also be described as antitheists, in that they'd prefer to see religion wiped out.
One man I met was adamant that faith was the only real source of evil on this planet, and advocated wresting control of the country away from the 'biblethumpers' by whatever means necessary, while ignoring the fact that his strong atheistic beliefs were based on faith rather than reason.
Now, with all of that said, atheists in general are not to be feared, and as religion related groups go, they should be feared less than many others. Just wanted to point out that as with just about everything else, exceptions exist.
I think it all comes down to respect. Everyone should respect others and whatever belief system they have including atheist beliefs. Everyone is free to choose what they will. I don't like seeing anyone being attacked because of what they believe.